Tangential Thoughts at The Winter Solstice

Today is the winter solstice in our part of the world. I’d almost forgotten until we were cleaning up after a very late lunch / very early dinner. I looked up and noticed how pink the sky was. (According to my third grade teacher, I think I was supposed to say, how pink was the sky – funny how language evolves).

So I jumped up and took some photos, just for you, dear reader.

Here is our sky at 4.45pm Sunday 21st June.


One of the nice things about our apartment is that on one side we have the golf course and Pacific Ocean; while on the other, we have a commercial port; grain and fertiliser silos; and a steel mill. As I once wrote in The Tapestry of My Life – a story that only lives on my computer – “I didn’t anticipate that this place would complement the duality of my nature“.


I think the steel mill can be quite beautiful, too. Here it is, letting off steam, at 5pm.


And by 5.10pm, this day, which officially started at 7am, is done. And 25-30 minutes is a pretty typical dusk here, winter or summer. Night fell, as they say in the classics.


Sometimes the 22nd June is the shortest day of the year. And it is also my birthday. When I was young, I complained to my mother that it wasn’t fair I didn’t get as much birthday as everyone else. She used to placate me by saying, “but when you grow up, it will be the longest night“. My mother didn’t speak much, and when she did, most of what she said was incomprehensible. I can only draw one conclusion from what Mum was telling me then, but surely she didn’t mean what I think she meant. Not when I was ten years old, at any rate.

Tomorrow I will be sixty-five, and something special is happening. My life insurance expires. This isn’t the kind of insurance that you get paid out like an investment. It’s the kind your next of kin gets if you die. So, I’ve survived to the point that the actuary – those qualified risk assessors – deemed I was past betting on. I’ll take that as a win.

From here on, I’m on bonus time. My mother lived to ninety-three. Maybe I will, too. But if I do, I hope I am still granted the gift of communication, which had entirely left her some years before – except through singing. Shortly before she died, I knew I was in her bad books when she wouldn’t sing along to “How Much is That Doggie in the Window” – but every time I stopped paying her attention, she said “ruff-ruff” in a growly voice. I still don’t know what I did wrong. But it is sad what the brain can do when the connections go hay-wire.

Funny how this Covid isolation sends you off on a tangent, isn’t it? Lucky I’m not living in the Arctic Circle, where the winter solstice would be spent in total darkness. Imagine being in iso and total darkness! (Not to mention it would be very cold, too!)

And hush to all of you who are saying, “But Gwen, that will never happen to you – you could talk underwater with your mouth full of pebbles!”

42 thoughts on “Tangential Thoughts at The Winter Solstice

  1. Many happy returns for yesterday, and congrats on outliving the life insurance policy!! Is 65 a significant age in Australia? It used to be the traditional age for men to retire here and get their state pension, but now, along with all women (it used to be 60), it has shifted to 66 years old and is a moveable feast for future generations. My daughter tells me her projected age for retirement is 74. Mind you neither of us think any of the state systems we currently have will exist in 50 years’ time even if humanity hasn’t managed to wipe itself off the planet.

    Liked by 1 person

    • We have two types of pension schemes in Australia.
      The government safety net, (called the aged pension), which is asset and income tested, and cuts in at 66 for me, but age eligibility will increase each year – so that is like what your daughter is comparing. The money comes from the income tax that everybody pays e.g. consolidated revenue, and the payment is a fixed amount regardless of what the stock market is doing.
      Then there is our superannuation, a personal/employer contributory system similar to yours but privately administered. Each person decides how it will be invested depending on their appetite for risk, and obviously the account balances are currently severely affected by market volatility. Reaching 65 does have implications for that one. For example I could withdraw the honey pot and not pay any tax.
      But mostly my comments were glib.

      Liked by 1 person

      • That’s interesting – similar situation to UK with our state and private sector ‘solutions’. When I was younger living in Germany and then the Netherlands we were struck by how much contributions were to their state pensions, but of course looking at it now I can see that everybody paying more on a sliding scale and the wider shared risk outcome when most people contributing, has meant much better pensions for folk. We have huge pension inequality here. Same old story.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Our personal superannuation currently is 9.5% on top of your gross (before tax) salary. The employer pays it before you even get your pay docket, so it looks as if the impost is on them. But in truth, without it, your wage would be higher. And the amount building into your super depends on how much, and how regularly, you earn (and what level of investment risk you are comfortable with). Low income earners, and females who break away for family, don’t have a fortune come retirement time.
          The government pension is paid from income and other taxes. A high earner will pay a lot of tax, but the pension goes to those who are below the means test. Some richer people get disgruntled, as they confuse that with the contributory schemes such as UK and Germany. They believe if they paid tax they should get the government pension, regardless as to the wealth accumulated in their super.

          Liked by 1 person

          • It seems that no system is perfect and there will always be some groups complaining. I don’t really understand why a decent universal state pension from a sliding scale tax contribution isn’t the norm.

            Liked by 1 person

          • In Australia, that would mean that people who had not worked, or worked little, would have nothing to live on come retirement time. That’s really the safety net purpose of the government pension (in my opinion) .And the reasons that could happen are not only a lack of work ethic.

            Liked by 1 person

  2. Happy Birthday … as it is still June 22nd in the U.S.A. and other environs. Maybe I’ll start my next birthday on Australia time and enjoy extra hours of celebration. I have always enjoyed traveling westward to stretch the day.
    P.S. Sunrise and sunset photos are always a treat – thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Happy upcoming 65th birthday from all of us here, Gwen! And that was a very beautiful pink sky there where you are.

    It was summer solstice yesterday up in this hemisphere. The garden is growing, cherries and blueberries are ripening.

    Stay well! It is always good to find the beauty and goodness in life where one can.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. So right about what the covid experience does to one’s mind (it now comes up as a typing suggestion on smartphones – all caps)… Certainly a good time for reflection. Thanks for the beautiful photos. We’ve had cloudy skies and spring rain, so none of the dramatic terrestrial phenomena have been visible day or night! Happy Birthday Gwen! Mine is July 4th – a loud and noisy day in the US, but I’m usually traveling – guess that won’t be the case this year because of….

    Liked by 1 person

    • We were nearly in the States 4th July two years ago. But we brought our plans forward thinking it would be an inconvenient time for our friends in Seattle. Accidentally bumped into Memorial Day instead 🙂 Hope you have a Happy Birthday, even though it will be so different this year – in more ways than one.


      • Remember that and had just returned to Oregon shortly before your road trip up the West Coast into Alaska and Canada. I’m mentally planning the next travel adventure – hiking the Scottish Islands and then a city fix somewhere interesting – maybe Belgrade or Istanbul. Hope they’ll be allowing Americans entry :o(… My traveling (roaming) days are on hold but not over! Knew things would be a mess back here but never thought they’d be this crazy – what can you do?!?

        Liked by 1 person

        • The situation is weird, I’m in no hurry to return to the States until it stabilises – even if my Aussie girlfriend keeps trying to get me to visit her in Texas. Your part of Oregon might be calm-ish, but I don’t envy you. Every time you turn on the TV . . .
          Turkey is still on my to-do list. Belgrade is interesting. I think it’s known these days as something of a party place 🙂


          • Belgrade is very hot in summer – I was there in early spring – and the splavs (floating party rafts) are all the rage. The performing arts scene is really fantastic and very affordable. I found a great little studio apartment right in the thick of things. Istanbuul is never-ending exotic. Where I am in Oregon is secluded in the Cascade foothills. There have been a few destructive demonstrations in the main business district but I’m far from anything direct. Wish I had a beach nearby like you!

            Liked by 2 people

  5. Hi Gwen,
    I read the blog from time to time,
    It happened something strange today, I thought about your birthday when I received your e mail!
    I began to read, I enjoyed your landscapes, and… Here I am, CONGRATULATING YOU!!!!
    Have a beautiful day tomorrow, celebrate life, be happy!!!


    • As long as I can walk and talk at the same time, I don’t mind what age I get to. But I do my best to stay in the moment, and enjoy what I have now. Thanks for the support 🙂 (ps I’m reading Operation Chowhound at the moment. Stephen Dando-Collins)

      Liked by 1 person

  6. A day measured in a photographic essay. Wonderful. I too, can see beauty in the industrial world. Weird. BTW, we were at the Glanville tonight and I met lady called Pam and she had a voice just like yours. I mentioned this at the table and Lyle said he remembered you and repeated the conversation he had with you about where you worked. And happy birthday for tomorrow! i would like to think you will catch me up one day but I fear that is wishful thinking.


  7. Brilliant Gwen & such good photos! We did watch it all too. Some years ago Rob & his friend dressed up as Druids & celebrated this day up by the lighthouse with a bottle of scotch of course at 6am!!! I’m looking forward to lighter mornings. Hope to see you for a birthday greeting tomorrow😊😊


  8. What a beautiful view you have from both sides of your home. You must be four or five floors up ? So no garden when your isolating ? Are you allowed to go to the park ?
    Are you allowed to go over the golf course to get to the beech ? I love walking by water. Very calming.
    It was your mother’s problems not yours so try to remember the good times. 😀 I was born 22nd December the winter solstice in England. Also the shortest day but the longest night for partying 👍 🌈 Take care. Stay well. Glenda xx


    • Hi Glenda, yes 5 floors up, and the apartment is all about the view J And we can access the beach across a path through the golf course. I had been walking several times until the weather turned, and also I got busy. I’m looking forward to getting back there.

      Some neighbours have small vegetable plots on site here, but I haven’t been much of a gardener. My contribution is compost scraps. My poor mum had many challenges in her life, and was not a well woman from when I was about seven onwards. It was a fact of life. Not something that gets me down. My post meandered onto the subject almost by accident J

      Xx Gwen


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